Relationships: Making Amends
I was in the grocery store one day and ran into a guy that I use to date over five years ago. When I saw him and talked to him for a minute or too, I apologized to him. Why? Funny you should ask. Let’s just say that when I was younger, I treated him like a jerk. I was young and dumb. I was mean and hateful to a very nice person who really liked me. I was trying to be a "player". In other words, I thought I was cool trying to date two guys at once without thinking about the consequences. In order to do better, you have to know better. The worst thing you can do is not make amends to someone you hurt. You not only make amends to the person because it is the right thing to do, but to be a better person.
Why is it Important to Amends?
Learning how to make amends is one step on your journey of personal growth toward greater maturity. With time you will become able to understand that not everything is one-sided, so if you get into an argument or misunderstanding with another person, don’t leave the situation thinking that it is not your fault, because an argument requires two people - You are one of them! People can say things that they don’t mean in a heated conversation when their minds are going a million miles a minute. After we calm down, we can realize that we shouldn’t have said certain things. Those who don’t feel this way have a serious problem, and this may be an indication of a form of sociopathy or narcisistic personality disorder. These are indicators that one is a self-centered an selfish individual. I know the statement is very blunt, but I am just being honest. This type of individual thinks that everything is about them, and thinks everybody is out to get them. I deal with people like that all the time. The best thing you can do when you have an altercation with this type of individual is to apologize and move on, even if they continue to cause trouble..
2. One step toward healing.
Hopefully everyone knows about the twelve step self-development program for alcoholics. One of the twelve steps to the program is to make amends, and the process may include writing a letter or calling people that they hurt during their illness. The point of the process is to not to expect to rebuild the relationship. The purpose is to understand that substance abuse causes you to think irrationally and hurt people around you, and that you should express remorse as a first step toward healing yourself.
The concept is the same for people who don’t have a substance abuse problem. You learn why you say and do hateful things toward other people, and after figuring out why you show that type of behavior, you will find out that it is because you have personal problems to work through. Learn to separate your personal problems from the situation, and show compassion toward others.
Furthermore, learn not to take things personally or be overly sensitive. Even though the person may accept your apology and not want to rebuild a relationship with you, they will see that you are working toward being a better person. Some people may feel that they are not able to work out their problems alone, so don’t be afraid to see a counselor to help you get through your problems. Going to a counselor shows that you realize that you have problem and that you are willing to learn how to fix the problem.
3. Know when to be the bigger person.
Some people don’t know when to let it go, and some people like to instigate situations. You have to realize that not everyone reacts the way you do. People who personally know me know that I can have a bad temper, but I have learned to express my opinion and thoughts more effectively when I got older. Learn how to speak effectively. Learn how to speak when necessary. Sometimes people's cruelty doesn't deserve a response from you.
My father used to tell me that a person can’t argue with themselves, so keep calm, and don't respond. People like to argue with people to get a bad reaction from you and to see if they can get you into trouble - People actually think like this sometimes! If you know a person demonstrates this type of behavior, walk away. There is no reasoning with them. However, always make amends if you have done something wrong, even if you don’t want to.
Why? One, you will feel better about yourself, and two, you will have done your part by reaching-out to fix the situation. Be compassionate toward others, and offer the opportunity for reconciliation, regardless of whether or not the person will act like an adult. However, never let any run over you, and remember to walk away if somebody mistreats you.
- Heather Browning, MBA, BA
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